The University of Massachusetts Lowell is New England’s first college to be named an official Tree Campus USA designate by the Nebraska-based Arbor Day Foundation.
The national awards are served up annually by the nonprofit ADF to celebrate colleges for dedication to “campus forestry management and environmental stewardship.”
“By encouraging its students to plant trees and participate in service that will help the environment, the University of Massachusetts Lowell is making a positive impact on its community that will last for decades,” said John Rosenow, chief executive and founder of the Arbor Day Foundation.
He added that the city will benefit from the University’s efforts, since planting trees helps create healthier cities.
Ryan McCaughey, UMass Lowell superintendent of grounds, was “extremely pleased” with the award, but says his efforts to showcase the University’s arboreal splendor are only beginning to take root.
McCaughey accepted the award from the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation May 18 in Springfield.
McCaughey, 39, applied for the designation, establishing that the University has met five standards for tree care and community engagement: a campus tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, an annual budget for tree care, involvement in observing Arbor Day, and a service-learning project aimed at engaging the student body.
McCaughey knows the process well. Before he arrived at UMass Lowell 18 months ago, he worked the grounds of Fresno State University in California, which was among the first batch of 29 colleges and universities to earn Tree Campus USA status when the program began in 2008.
He is putting the finishing touches on his service learning project, a tree walk, on South Campus.
The walk, which McCaughey began last fall, includes some 40 varieties of trees, including large, 100-year-old oaks by Allen House, which he has heard were planted by Charles Herbert Allen, the first civilian U.S. governor of Puerto Rico and the patriarch for whom the recently restored Italianate building is named.
McCaughey said the University spent about $30,000 to care for its trees last year.
“Listen,” says McCaughey, “my plan is to have all three campuses designated as arboretums. Each campus is so different and I’d like to tie them all together.”